September 18, 2020

After all the recent doom and gloom around the world and in the wine world, here is a little dose of positivity.

NEW BEGININGS:  McLaren Vale wine producer, Lino Ramble, whose Mediterranean variety wines I have reviewed over the last couple of years, is in the process of setting up a cellar door to make it easier for their loyal band of fans, to access their delightful and delicious wines.

The cellar door will be located in a restored very old stone cottage (1897) at 148 McMurtrie Road in McLaren Vale. It will be a shared cellar door with Bondar Wines and Sherrah Wines, who will be moving in a bit later.

Having three small producers in the one site will offer visitors greater diversity and interest.

Lino Ramble was created in 2012 when Andy Coppard and Angela Townsend teamed up. Their focus is on emerging Mediterranean grape varieties such as Pinot Grigio, Grillo, Fiano, Nero d’Avola and the Portuguese red variety with the unfortunate name, Bastardo. They were the first winery to produce a Grillo (Italian white) in McLaren Vale, and I first tasted their divine Fiano at a meeting/tasting of the McLaren Vale “Fiano Fellowship” at the Victory Hotel in late 2018, and fell in love with their wines.

The new cellar door will be in salubrious company, being just down the road from Wirra Wirra and Primo Estate.

Winery Link:

CAN IT:  At the recent 2nd International Canned Wine Competition (ICWC) in Fresno California (which had entries from around the world), an Australian wine – Fourth Wave’s “Take it to the Grave” 2018 Shiraz won Best Red Wine of the Show, whilst Kiwi, Joiy Wine’s “Savvy Society” Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc won the Best White Wine of the Show.

Allan Green, the Competition Director for the show said that whilst most people think that wine in a can is a recent phenomenon, the first examples date back to around 1935, at the same time as the first beers were being canned.

Since 2012 when can wines began to register in the market, the sales volume has gone up eighty-fold up to 2019. Currently there are more than 450 wineries in 22 countries selling wine in cans, with the first wine in a can being recently released in India – an ultra-conservative wine drinking country.

In Australia one of the leading companies is Riot Wines which have grown massively since it started in 2015 and have a wide range of products, ranging from semi-sweet bubblies, through to the hugely popular Rosé right up to a superb vintaged varietal Grenache from McLaren Vale.

In the UK, the 2018 start-up ‘The Uncommon’ winery based near London has all its wines in cans and also makes some 5.5% Spritzers as well. Specifically designed for the millennials, the packaging is striking and appealing, so much so that they won the packaging prize at the ICWC, whilst all four wines that they entered won gold medals. This is very unconventional and up-market with each can costing over £5 and they are packaged in either an 8-pack or a 16-pack.

So with wine in can going from strength to strength, have you tried some yet? When you do make sure that it is a serious/proper wine not some of the fizzy swill that some of the bigger companies are currently peddling.

Cheers and can it!

This Week's Wine Review:

Most of you would have heard the news recently that a French Ampelographer discovered that ALL of Australia’s Petit Manseng (a lesser known French white variety) vines are in fact Gros Manseng ( Big Manseng), rather than Petit Manseng.

So what’s the big deal? The variety is producing exciting wines for those Aussie producers who’s Manseng I have tasted so far. There are currently twenty-five wineries producing a “Petit” Manseng here in Australia, of which I have tasted nearly half.

Today’s wine comes from the creative and innovative team at Toppers Mountain in New England, NSW, TOPPER’S MOUNTAIN 2017 NEW ENGLAND PETIT MANSENG.  This is a very appealing wine with delightful apple and peach aromas and lovely florals. On the palate it is fresh, crisp and flavoursome with great depth of flavour and lively crisp acidity. Very interesting on the bouquet and greatly rewarding on the palate. TRULY SUPERB and very moreish!

Incidentally, Topper’s Mountain had much of their vineyards burnt out in a February 2019 bushfire and have been working extra hard to recover from this disaster, including setting up an “Adopt a Vine” scheme whereby people, including me, can adopt a specific newly re-planted vine (with its own GPS tag) in the vineyard, get updates on it and also awesome discounts at special “Adopters” sales twice a year!!

Winery Link:

So heading into the petit-less future – The term Gros appearing on a wine label will (for sure) detract from people picking up the bottle and giving it a try. It really is one of those no-no words in wine terms, just like “sweet” is. Whilst “Petit” has positive (small, tiny, elegant) connotations about it, Gros has very negative ones (big, ugly, fat, revolting). Therefore given that ALL the Manseng in Australia is Gros, I would like to suggest that the producers get together and petition Wine Australia to be allowed to call it simply, “Manseng”.

This will minimise the damage from having to change the name as it will avoid the stigma of having a “no-no” word in the name. So in the future if anyone starts producing the real Petit Manseng they can call it that and the existing wines can still be called simply Manseng. You know it makes sense.

So irrespective of whether your Manseng is Petit or Gros, it is a delightful variety that is well worth your attention.